A/N: I'm rather pleased with how this story is coming along! I'm hoping I can finish this story before I lose interest, as has happened with a number of previous projects…Not to worry, though! It's only because I have too many ideas bouncing around inside my head to focus :)
Disclaimer: Characters are not mine, sadly.
Warning: Rating may be raised to M later on.
::Walk Two Moons: Chapter Three::
In the offices of the Third Division:
"Here's the compiled report from last week's Hollow incident, Ichimaru-taichou," Kira said, respectfully handing over his neatly stacked paperwork. His hair was combed back tidily and his solemn behavior impeccably polite as he delivered the verbal updates of the Third Division's status and scheduled events.
Matsumo propped her chin in her hand and regarded him with amusement. The last time she'd seen Kira, he had been hopping around a pub with his arm around Renji, roaring drunk and shamelessly bellowing, "I've got itty-bitty nips!"
Kira continued his speech, blissfully oblivious to her scrutiny. "Here are the papers that need your review, taichou. Could you sign them? I have to step out for a minute to go over the details of our mock battle last week with one of our squad members."
"Of course, Kira-kun!" Matsumoto said brightly, noting the way Kira's face flushed with pleasure at her encouraging words. How unexpected, she mused to herself as Kira left. Maru-chan seems to command quite a bit of respect and deference from his subordinates. Though you'd never guess it from the way he acts.
Idly sorting through Gin's drawer for a brush, her fingers unexpectedly touched paper. Why was there paper in Gin's brush drawer? How odd. She drew it out.
It was just a small, unremarkable piece of white paper. Written on the paper in tiny, flowing script, however, was a message: Meet me in the old pavilion behind the West Gate tomorrow night.
Matsumoto's eyes lit up. The paper was unsigned, but had been torn off a memo stamped with today's date. Gin must have received it earlier this morning. How cryptic! She peered more closely at the neat lettering. Could it have been written by a girl? Pursing her lips in slight annoyance at the thought, she tucked the paper into one of her sleeves and vowed to investigate further. Tomorrow night, was it? She licked her lips devilishly. She would be there!
Gin didn't drink, but she knew where Kira kept his sake stash (having spent many afternoons with him furtively drinking the boredom of their office duties away while their captains were preoccupied). Kira walked back into the office just as she was pouring the sake into two cups. "Ichimaru-taichou…?"
"Come on, come on!" She said cheerfully, beckoning him forward. "It's much too boring to do work in the middle of the day."
Kira's eyes widened to the size of saucers and he stared uneasily at the sake cup on her desk, shifting from foot to foot. "If you insist, Ichimaru-taichou," he said awkwardly.
Matsumoto pouted. How was she supposed to have fun with this sort of atmosphere?
To her dismay, the vice-captain was slowly inching towards the door, certain that he was about to fall victim to one of the captain's infamous (and painful) pranks. "Ah, I must have forgotten a prior appointment," he cried unconvincingly. "I must take my leave!"
"Kira-kun," she began, but before she could say another word Kira had sprinted out of her office. Matsumoto stared after him indignantly. She wasn't that frightful, was she? Creepy as he might seem, as far as she knew, Gin did not normally have this sort of effect on people. What was she doing wrong?
She slumped forward, resting her head on her desk. Although she knew Kira very well and thought she understood Gin quite a bit, she now realized that she had no idea how Gin behaved towards his vice captain, or what their relationship was.
She considered herself Gin's best friend and didn't believe that there was anyone in the world who knew him better, but she had no idea what his relationships with other people were like and she couldn't even make it through one day acting as Gin. It depressed her.
She wondered if Gin was having as much trouble as she was.
In the offices of the Tenth Division:
Hitsugaya squirmed indignantly as an impressive pair of bosoms descended on his head. "MATSUMOTO!"
"Good mornin', Hitsugaya-taichou!" Gin chirped, squishing the little captain under his new equipment.
Hitsugaya struggled free, trying to maintain a semblance of dignity. "Matsumoto! Where are the papers I sent you to get!?"
Gin just looked at him and re-adjusted his chest. "What papers, taichou?" He asked brightly, bending over provocatively and resting his elbows on the desk.
Hitsugaya spluttered and muttered and turned an astonishing shade of red. "Never mind!" he cried, springing down from his desk. "I'll get them. Matsumoto, stay here and finish your paperwork!"
As the white-haired captain left in a huff, Gin fished around under Matsumoto's desk and poured himself two cups of sake. Then, he took a nap.
The original agreement had been to meet in the training courts after lunch, but the explosion in Mayuri's laboratory had set several of the division's file cabinets on fire and the backup in paperwork kept both of them busy until just before dusk. They met in front of the training yards just as the sun vanished beyond the horizon and the sky darkened to the barest shades of violet.
Matsumoto watched with reluctant admiration as Gin sauntered toward her. He had her trademark walk down to the tiniest swing in her hips when she walked. "How did you learn how to move like that?"
He winked at her. "Like what?" He stopped and watched her critically as she came towards him. "Rangiku-chan, you don't walk like me at all."
"I'm used to having to counterbalance the weight of my babies," Matsumoto said, a little wistfully. "Now that I don't have them, every movement feels awkward."
Gin rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, if we're goin' ta pull this off for a few weeks, you'll have ta learn to move the way I do. How 'bout we spar, for a bit?"
There was a moment of silence as Matsumoto looked longingly at Haineko, strapped to Gin's back, while Gin stared at Shinsou.
"Can we even call our zanpaktous out while we're in the wrong bodies?"
"No way to find out 'less we try." Gin nodded down at the sword strapped to her hip. "How 'bout callin' Shinsou out ta play?"
She closed her eyes and, wrapping her fingers around the hilt, tried to call for the zanpaktou the same way she always called out to Haineko. After a few seconds, sweat was trickling down her face. What she was feeling from the sword wasn't just a sense of silence – there when she tried reaching for the zanpaktou, she felt a sensation of numbness. Even in Gin's body, the sword itself seemed to be resisting her.
"Not good, huh?" Gin remarked, watching her face. He held out his hand. "Lemme try." His fingers closed gently over hers for a minute before he lifted the sword from her grasp.
He held it in silence for a moment, then turned it thoughtfully over in his fingers. "Can't feel nothin'." He flicked his wrist, and Shinsou landed point down in the dirt beside them. Their eyes met. "This is serious, Rangiku-chan. If we can' use our Shikai, we can' even fight."
Silently, Matsumoto reached over and brushed Haineko's hilt. When she felt the same chilling numbness creeping up her fingertips, she pulled away. "Guess we better brush up on our kidou." she mused, a little regretfully. She loved fighting with Haineko.
Gin shrugged. "We can start with footwork and our basic sword steps." Pulling Shinsou from the dirt, he tossed it to her.
At first, her footwork was a little more than unwieldy as they parried blades, drew back, and clashed again.
"Stop favoring your right leg so much," Gin advised, as he blocked her strike. "You know your body, Matsumoto. What are my weaknesses?"
"I'm not going to have those advantages when I'm fighting someone else," she grunted, dodging Haineko as it swept nimbly through the air.
"No, but 'cha need to start learning to look for your opponent's weaknesses. Don't be afraid to use it against them. They shouldn'ta revealed them in the first place." Gin's eyes shone dimly in the darkness.
As she fell into a concentrated rhythm of slashing and parrying, her thoughts ran on relentlessly. I favor my right leg, because I usually initiate my attacks from the right. My right side is stronger. My left side is-
She twisted lithely away Gin's sword, adrenaline thrumming through her veins. She closed in on his left side and slashed.
But even in her body, Gin was quicker. Her forceful forward thrust threw her off balance as she found herself facing empty space instead of Gin's supposedly weak left side. A hand came over her shoulder from behind, closing gently around her neck.
"Yield?" Gin murmured, from behind her.
Because of his new assets, however, Gin couldn't stand as close to her as he was used to. Sensing a weak spot, she smashed his arm aside and whirled to face him.
The expression she saw on his face was simultaneously both frightening and beautiful. His eyes were wide and intense, blazing with a sense of passion and determination that took her breath away. The ferocity and yet, the sense of cool-headed, calm control – she could see the essence of the person Gin was. He was a lovely paradox, fire and ice.
Adrenaline thrummed through her blood, and she felt drawn as taut as a bowstring. Gin's leanly muscled body moved easily under her every whim, and she felt strong and deadly, almost lethal, like a sharply honed weapon. With each panting breath she took, she felt an increasing urge to claim. To dominate.
"Rangiku," Gin said, and then she was reaching fiercely for him, twining her fingers in his hair, and claiming his mouth in a searing, fiery kiss. I'm taller than he is, she thought irrationally, before their tongues tangled in a way that sent shivers down her spine.
They pulled apart breathlessly, with Gin wiping a smear of lipstick away from Matsumoto's mouth. His smile was languid and a little teasing, and Matsumoto suddenly felt a surprising wave of indignation. He's only indulging me.
She almost said to him, 'Take me seriously, damn it!' But of course she didn't. It would've been most uncharacteristic of her. Instead, she just pulled him close again, wrapping her arms tightly around his body, kissing him deeply. His heart beat madly against hers for a moment before he maneuvered his way out of her grasp.
"Shhh…Rangiku," Gin panted, holding her arms gently as he disentangled himself. She ran her tongue briefly over his lower lip, then rested her forehead against his.
"Sorry," Matsumoto said sheepishly, a little breathless. "Got lost in the moment, there." She pulled away a little to look at him. His lips were glistening and his hair was a little tousled, but apart from that he looked as composed as ever. "Aren't you all calm and collected?" She teased, pinching his nose affectionately, if a little shakily. "Maru-chan, it's almost like you don't have weaknesses."
Gin's smile was wry, and a little grim. "Oh, but I do. Those who hide their weaknesses so completely that you can't even find them, they're the ones you have to look out for." She didn't notice that his hands trembled for just a moment as he released her. Bending down a little painfully, he rummaged around in the knapsack he'd brought and fished out a bottle of water before passing it to her.
Patting his shoulder in thanks, Matsumoto took a long, grateful swig before tossing the bottle back to him. "So," she said cheerily, rolling over to face Gin. "My place or yours?"
Gin choked on his water and sprayed it everywhere.
Matsumoto cried out in dismay. "Maru-chan, stop that at once! That's unlady-like!"
Gin wiped the water off his face with his sleeve. "I beg your pardon?" He said hoarsely.
Matsumoto propped her chin up in her hand, picking at blades of grass. "Should I stay at my place tonight, or yours? Not that I know where your place is, but if I go back looking like this, my neighbors might start gossiping."
Gin regarded her a little suspiciously. "You can stay at my place tonight," he said finally. "Do you have a spare uniform I can borrow?"
"I keep one in my lockers," she replied indifferently. "I'll give it to you tomorrow. We'll have to come a little earlier, though."
Gin shrugged in silent assent.
"Also," Matsumoto declared, pushing herself up. "I'm not leaving you alone with my body. You probably don't even know how to wash it right."
Gin twitched a little at the suggestion. "I'm not showerin' tonight."
"You most definitely are!" Matsumoto cried in outrage. "You're all sweaty from our sparring match. I'm not going to let you walk around unwashed. Women need to be clean. Think of my reputation! Here, I'll even teach you how to wash my body."
"I'm not showerin' tonight, and I am most definitely not showerin' with you!" Gin pulled away. Was it getting dark, or could she spot the faintest tinge of red on his cheeks?
"Come on! No need to be shy!" Matsumoto cried, yanking firmly on his uniform. "It's nothing I haven't seen before!"
"It's nothin' I've seen before." Gin informed her, trying to disentangle her grasp. "And I don't intend to start lookin' now."
"Well, what do you expect me to do?" Matsumoto huffed, crossing her arms. "I'm certainly not going to shower blindfolded."
Gin shrugged carelessly, wincing slightly as he raised his sore body to his feet. "You can look at my body. I don't mind."
"What!" She crossed her arms. "How come I can look at your body, but you can't look at mine? This makes no sense!" Gin was already walking out of the courtyard, waving a lazy hand at her. "Maru-chan! Wait for me!"
In the offices of the Thirteenth Divison, Ukitake was momentarily distracted from his paperwork by raised voices in the courtyard. He frowned for a minute, and then – hearing the contents of their conversation – blushed and smiled beatifically. "Lover's quarrel," he said mildly to himself, before bending back to his paperwork.
Chapter Four Preview:
"Gin, if you don't let me strip you right now, I'm going to walk through Soul Society naked tomorrow!"
Sorry if Gin's speaking style seems inconsistent - I'm having trouble nailing down his accent, but as always, he's fun to write. Please review, if you liked it! They are truly the best motivator for a struggling writer. And as always, please let me know what you liked or where I can improve!